Schools comply with 'green-cleaning' law - Catholic Courier

Schools comply with ‘green-cleaning’ law

Starting Sept. 1, all of New York state’s elementary and secondary schools — including diocesan Catholic schools — will be required by law to use environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products.

Passed in 2005, New York’s State Education Law 409-i and State Finance Law 163-b mandate that schools purchase and utilize only chemicals and cleaning products that have minimal potential consequences to human health and the environment. Such "green-cleaning" or environmentally preferred products must be as efficient as products currently in use, but also must protect the environment and the health and safety of students and school employees, the law states.

Many diocesan schools are already using green-cleaning products, said Cindy Drexler, business manager for diocesan Catholic schools. For example, a number of schools have contracts with Highland Maintenance, a Rochester-based company that has been using green-cleaning products for quite some time, she added.

On the other hand, schools that have not been using environmentally friendly cleaning products don’t necessarily need to immediately purchase new cleaning supplies, she said. The law allows schools to continue to use cleaning products that were purchased before Sept. 1, and schools are encouraged to research their options before purchasing new products.

The state does not anticipate that green-cleaning products will be more expensive than more traditional cleaning products, Drexler said. In fact, schools may even be able to save money by purchasing more efficient products or one product that can be used for a variety of tasks, instead of separate products for each task, she said.

The diocese planned to hold two training sessions to help school officials learn more about the state mandate and how to comply with it, as well as to help them understand the philosophy behind green cleaning, Drexler said.

"What we’re trying to focus on in the training sessions is the spirit of the law," she said.


New York State’s Office of General Services Web site includes answers to frequently asked questions about environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products. This information may be accessed at


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